We’re off! My daughter and I are having our very first holiday together – on our own! It had been her idea. “We never have time to chat, Mum.”
It’s true. When I arrive at 7.15am for my usual granny days, there are a few rushed moments for a quick briefing session – children’s clothes, food, change in routine – before she rushes off to work.
But now both she and I are having cold feet. Don’t get me wrong. Her husband is absolutely fantastic at looking after the children. I am constantly in awe of the way they “team tag”. But it’s still a big thing to leave a 15 month and a three year old for four days.
“I’m not sure about this,” she says, when I pick her up at 5.30am for the airport. (Little George has been up for an hour already and is snuggling up in her arms.) “I’m going to miss them all so much.”
By the time we reach check-in, I’ve already Googled earlier return flights just in case my daughter’s homesickness gets the better of her. They are all twice the price of our original booking and there aren’t many spare seats.
“Look,” says my daughter, pointing out a little girl in the queue in front. “She’s just like Rose.”
My heart aches. I am beginning to miss my precious grandchildren too. Maybe this isn’t such a good idea after all.
It’s too late to go back…
Then the plane takes off and something strange happens. It’s as though our reservations have melted because it’s too late to go back. Or is it? I have a sudden recollection of a friend who, some twenty years ago, had gone on holiday with her husband while their son was being looked after by the grandparents. When they reached the hotel, there was a message to say their son had fallen out of a tree and broken her arm. They did a quick about-turn without even checking in…
But when we reach our apartment in southern Spain, there is thankfully no such message. “They’re all fine,” says my daughter after ringing home. “Isn’t this lovely, Mum?”
It really is. The skies are a solid blue – even though it’s January – and the temperature is ten degrees higher than it is at home. We are actually wearing T-shirts and jeans instead of thermals!
We set off to explore the pretty town yet we can’t stop talking about the children. It’s as though we need to make up for their absence. “I forgot to tell you Rose cycled on her own at the weekend,” says my daughter, tucking her arm in mine. Amazing! I remember when my daughter did this for the first time and my heart melts.
By the next day, we find ourselves talking about non-mummy things too. Wonderful as Rose and George are, it’s important to have a balance in life. In the afternoon, we play tennis. She gets the first set! “Don’t let me win,” she says. But I’m not!
We play for so long that my daughter misses a call from her husband so she can say goodnight to the children. When she rings back, they have both fallen asleep. My daughter is devastated at missing them. I feel her angst too. But in the morning, they make up for it with a long chat. Not for the first time, I can’t help feeling that mobiles are both a curse and a blessing!
My heart melts
In the evening, I take her out to dinner as a treat. “I do love you, Mum,” she says. Her words make my heart melt. Our life is so hectic at home that we sometimes forget to tell each other that, concentrating instead on instructions on what the children should have for tea and whether George’s cough is bad enough to warrant a doctor’s appointment.
Meanwhile, my husband and the dog are having a high old time! He’s already been out to lunch with his chum Jack and they’ve put the world to rights.
My son-in-law, in my view, deserves a medal. He’s been taking the children out and about and had a playdate with another dad. “It’s so nice to speak to an adult,” he says during one of the evening FaceTime calls.
“Yes,” says my daughter. “That’s just how I feel when I have the children!”
“When you two are back, I’m having a month off,” he jokes. At least, I think he’s joking…
By the last day, we’re both beginning to feel we need to go home. Don’t get me wrong. It’s been wonderful to have that mother/daughter time but she needs her little family. “Mummy back tomorrow,” chirps Rose brightly down the phone. “We miss you,” says her husband.
Yet I can also see that it’s done my daughter the world of good to have three nights of uninterrupted sleep…
We have an evening flight which means we don’t get back until midnight. My husband picks us up from the airport and we see my daughter in through her front door. There is a collection of little gifts for her at the bottom of the stairs – welcome home drawings from the children and a warm drink. The children are asleep but when they wake in the morning, they jump into her arms. George “talks” to his mummy for over five minutes in a singsong voice which he has never done before. It’s as though he is telling her everything he’s been doing. Rose can’t wait to show off her latest drawing which looks remarkably Picasso-like.
As for me, I’m off the next morning to visit my 95-year-old father who lives miles away. Families! There’s nothing like them. Meanwhile, I can’t wait to book another mother/daughter break…